Women’s Beginning Backpacking

Discover the beauty and ruggedness of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in this spectacular area with its multi-hued rocks and beautiful deep lakes. This trip will take you deeper into wilderness and allow you to see John Muir’s treasured range up close. It is an introductory backpacking trip and a fun adventure with a group of women who are looking to get out and experience the Sierra Nevada. For three days and two nights we will hike up into the alpine, carrying what we need and seeing beautiful mountains, forests and alpine lakes. A lot of people find that it is hard to get time off work to get to the mountains but driving to the Eastern Sierra and back in a weekend just makes everything too rushed and ruins the goal of getting away and relaxing in the mountains. So take an extra day off work and take the time to simply enjoy the peace of the mountains and their beauty and recharge your soul.

One reason we like this route is that it gives us some options. If the main desire is to hike then we can do the full loop. If you would rather slow down, relax and just absorb the natural world around you, we can take a shorter loop by camping on the rock slabs of Garnet Lake and then dropping back to the river trail and Agnew Meadows.

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Described below is the long version, but if you decide you would rather relax more the itinerary will change slightly.

Day 1

We will meet in Mammoth, do a gear check and then take the Red’s Meadow shuttle to Agnew Meadows. From here we take the River Trail along the San Joaquin River, past Sierra Junipers with their papery bark and spreading branches. A short steep climb takes us to the glacial bowl holding beautiful Shadow Lake. Here we find a great swimming rock for the brave. We follow Shadow Creek and climb to our camp near the junction with the JMT.

Day 2

The sun greets us early here and, after a leisurely breakfast, we head into one of the most lovely places in the Mammoth area. A short pass crossing takes us to Garnet Lake and the other gems here (Ruby and Emerald) before dropping to the big expanse of Thousand Island Lake. We take lunch here and enjoy the views of Mounts Ritter and Banner before heading to camp at Badger Lakes.

Day 3

We leave camp early with now light packs and contour below the crest of the San Joaquin Ridge looking back to where our route has taken us. We hope to be back at the trailhead by early afternoon in time to get you on the road home.

Distances and Elevations

Day 1 – Trailhead to Shadow Creek: 4.9 miles, 1250 feet of gain, 550 feet of down

Day 2 – Shadow Creek to Badger: Lakes 6.5 miles, 1850 feet of gain, 1320 feet of down

Day 3 – Badger Lakes to Trailhead: 6.3 miles, 642 feet of gain, 1850 feet of down

If we choose the shorter loop this reduces the Day 2 distance to 3 miles and the Day 3 distance back to the trailhead to 5 miles. Elevation gains and losses also are reduced on both days.


Program Prerequisites:

No prior experience is required though you should be in good physical condition and able to carry a pack with three days of equipment.

Program Inclusions:

Price includes guiding, permits, tents, kitchen gear, breakfasts, lunches and dinners (you bring hot/cold drinks and snack items). Scheduled dates include USFS trail fees. Private programs do not.
Local accommodation is not included.

Please Read before you go

We feel the following information is essential... (links open as PDF in new window)

  1. Details, Itinerary, and Equipment List

    Check out our Women on the Trail information sheet for more information on being in the wilderness as a woman.

  2. SMC Cancellation Policy
  3. Suggestions on preparation - get the most out of your trip!
  4. Tips on physical training for your trip
  5. LNT - Let's work together to protect our precious mountain environment.

PDF Maps:

Women's Beginning Backpacking map

Rental Equipment:

Need to rent equipment for your trip? We can help.